Pre-Park Opening Breakfast at Disney World Strategy
There are two advantages of pre-park opening breakfast reservations that make these some of the hottest ADRs at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. In this post, we’ll cover how to use those ADRs for empty park photos and beating the rope drop dash at some of Walt Disney World’s most popular attractions.
Let’s start with the basics. A pre-park opening (PPO) advanced dining reservation (ADR) is a breakfast reservation prior to the opening of a given park, beginning at 8 a.m. on days when the parks open to regular guests at 9 a.m. While there is some fluidity to those times during busier seasons, that hour is almost always the window of time for pre-park opening ADRs.
No matter what (reasonable) time you intend upon arriving at Magic Kingdom or the other parks, Walt Disney World transportation will be running. Buses to Magic Kingdom usually begin running around 6:30, and buses for the other parks usually enter service around 7 a.m., as do the monorails and boats. This is more than enough time to arrive in time for your pre-park opening ADR. Security has been a little hit or miss in our experience, but usually opens by 7:30 a.m. at the latest.
Guests who have a pre-park opening breakfast reservation are (obviously) allowed into the parks early, with the ability to enter the park at around 7:45 a.m. This is true regardless of whether your ADR is for 8 a.m. exactly, or as late as 8:55 a.m. So long as your ADR is before official park opening, you’re “on the list” and allowed entrance via the turnstile for breakfast reservations.
Despite the fact that all guests with pre-parking opening ADRs are allowed to enter as early as 7:45 a.m., we’d encourage you to snag reservations closer to 8 a.m., if possible. This is because you’re going to be given priority in terms of seating if you have an earlier reservation, rather than a later one.
In actuality, we’ve never had things play out that way. We’ve done pre-park opening ADRs numerous times, and almost always get “stuck” with ones around 8:45 a.m. because we aren’t quick to the draw on the earlier ones.
Most times we’ve done this, we’ve spent around 12 minutes taking photos (and walking to the restaurant), and made a point of arriving at the podium to check-in by 8:00 a.m. By doing this, you should have around 45 minutes from the time seated until you need to leave to enjoy your breakfast. That’s a pretty narrow window once you factor in meeting characters (where applicable) and paying, but it’s doable most places.
If you’re not so concerned with racing through breakfast to get to an attraction by 8:55 a.m., we’d encourage you to go slower while entering the park. Soak up the ambiance and take as many photos as you can, because this is a rare experience that should be savored.
We did the unDISCOVERed Future World tour on our recent Walt Disney World trip, which also provides pre-park opening access to Epcot, and we had nearly 30 minutes to wander around. Here’s a quick walk-around video we posted to Facebook of the experience:
Another reason for taking your time is because most people who book pre-park opening ADRs–at least the ones entering at 7:45–are doing so in order to have a quick breakfast and finish in time for rope drop. They are in a hurry to get to the restaurant podium, be seated, and get on with their meal and day.
If you slow down and take your time, you’ll find there’s a bit of a “pocket” right after that initial rush into the park, and the next wave of guests who arrive. This is ideal for empty park photos and will also reduce your wait time to be seated at the restaurant podium.
In Magic Kingdom, it should be noted that this pocket is short-lived. Due to the new opening procedure, regular day guests start entering the park at 8 a.m., and even that time can be moved forward slightly on particularly busy days. (Park ops wants to avoid congestion at the turnstiles and security, which is why the opening procedure was moved inside the park.)
With that said, empty pre-park opening photos are still possible in Magic Kingdom. You just don’t have a full hour, and your chances of truly empty shots are dramatically lower. It’s still a nice experience, but nowhere near what it was a few years ago. If empty park photos in Magic Kingdom are your main motivation for this, staying late at night is probably the better option.
While any pre-park opening breakfast reservation will get you the advantage of empty park photos, not all offer the same in terms of rope drop strategy. For example, Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom is located outside the Fantasyland “rope,” meaning that if you finish there at 8:55 a.m., you’re behind a large horde of day guests who have been arriving since 8 a.m. In that case, you’re actually at a disadvantage for rope drop.
By contrast, if you do Cinderella’s Royal Table or Be Our Guest Restaurant for breakfast, you’re inside the rope, giving you free rein of Fantasyland. These are the only two Magic Kingdom restaurants that offer such an advantage.
We’d recommend Be Our Guest Restaurant for breakfast. Although we weren’t particularly keen on it in our Breakfast Be Our Guest Restaurant Review, it’s a significantly cheaper option (great as a Disney Dining Plan credit use, too!).
Plus, racing through breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table is more impractical…and honestly not recommend given the high price you’re paying. In fact, while this post assumes that you’ve already made your mind up on doing a pre-park opening breakfast, we have a tough time justifying the out of pocket cost of any of these character breakfasts–but that’s just us.
Once done with breakfast, the attraction to which you should race in Magic Kingdom is Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Other Fantasyland attractions are options (Peter Pan’s Flight is an alternative to consider), but Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is the hot ticket.
In Epcot, the attraction you’ll want to target depends upon your location. If you did Akershus, Frozen Ever After is it. If you did Garden Grill, it’s Soarin’ Around the World. It’s not possible to criss-cross the park to do the other attraction, so plan accordingly.
We shared our experience doing a pre-park opening Akershus breakfast and finishing that in our Frozen Ever After Tips & Strategy post, so I won’t regurgitate that here. Suffice to say, we were able to meet every princess (barely) but it was a rushed experience, and for the price we paid, I would’ve rather had a slower paced, relaxed meal.
We’d only recommend this approach as a last resort if you’re unable to score Frozen Ever After FastPass+, and doing it at the end of the night is not an option.
We can’t speak to Disney’s Hollywood Studios as we have no personal experience on that front, but the advantage to doing Hollywood & Vine pre-park opening is likely going to lie with being able to sign-up for Jedi Training Academy: Trials of the Temple. (We’ve heard you can do this before breakfast, but again, we have no experience. Perhaps someone who has done this can clarify in the comments?)
Over at Animal Kingdom, Tusker House offers a potential advantage for early access to Kilimanjaro Safaris. The bigger deal is that it currently offers a disadvantage for access to Pandora: World of Avatar. Under no circumstances should you book Tusker House if you plan on rope dropping Flight of Passage.
That could change once the dust settles with Pandora, but don’t hold your breath. We’re nearly a year into Pandora’s existence, and it’s still incredibly chaotic at rope drop, so the procedure is not likely to be anytime soon.
Actually, outside of Be Our Guest Restaurant, we have a very difficult time recommending pre-park opening breakfast reservations as an ‘alternative FastPass+.’ The cost of these character meals is simply too high, and even if you’re able to make it out in time, you’ll feel rushed and pressured throughout the entire meal.
Another thing to consider is that many of these breakfasts are buffets. When we do buffets at Walt Disney World, we put on our game faces, pretending we’re Crazy Legs Conti downing six hot dogs at once. Usually, we spend around 90 minutes at a Walt Disney World buffet: 60 minutes stuffing our faces non-stop, followed by 30 trying to recover from our waking food comas and trying to get up from our seats.
Plus, if you’re planning far enough in advance to make an ADR at the 180-day mark, there should be no reason that you can’t make a FastPass+ at the 60-day mark. Even the most coveted of these FastPasses (Frozen Ever After and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train) are not too difficult to score at that point.
One thing we would highly recommend is making two separate pre-park opening breakfast reservations for the park of your choice on different days. The reason for doing this is because ADRs can be made before park calendars are typically released, meaning morning Extra Magic Hours can be scheduled after you’ve already made your ADR. Morning Extra Magic Hours effectively undermine your early entry advantage, so avoid breakfast on those days.
The problem with waiting to book ADRs until the park calendars are released is that some of the more popular restaurants will already be fully booked. Booking reservations on two different days sidesteps this problem, and so long as you cancel the other reservation, there’s no penalty.
Ultimately, pre-park opening breakfast reservations are something we really enjoy for the sake of experiencing an empty park first thing in the morning, not having to deal with the chaos of rope drop crowds, and fun photos. There also can be an advantage in beating the crowds to popular attractions, but that’s less of a sure thing. In the end, we would not recommend booking a breakfast you otherwise would not want to do (given the cost), but these advantages are certainly icing on the cake for a meal that already interests you!
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Have you done a pre-park opening breakfast at Walt Disney World? What did you think of the experience? Any strategical tips to add? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
I got reservations for my little one at bibbity boppity boutique for 8:30am. 8:30 is the early entrance time on that day as we are staying at yacht club. We are a family of 4 and I just have the reservation for my younger daughter. Can all 4 of us go in early? Filled by that I got a reservation at CRT at 9:25. Will these times work out?
Are there any advantages to PPO ADRs right now with shortened park hours? Can you even do PPO ADRs? Love to hear your thoughts!
We did both Be Our Guest and Hollywood and vine PPO ADRs on our last trip to facilitate rope drop in fantasy land and sign up for a Jedi Training at HS, respectively. Both were great experiences that we would love to do again BUT our Hollywood and Vine PPO was before the opening of Star Wars land. Is there any advantage/ disadvantage of doing this now especially in regard to Jedi training sign ups now that park opening seems to be fluid at this point in time due to Rise of the Resistance boarding groups? Thanks!
Do the parks have a different entrance for early breakfast reservation? If so, where can I find it? I have early reservations for Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.
In my experience it has been to the right of entrances. I recall cast members holding a sign for those with dining reservations. They will let you in early if your reservation is before park open
We just made a 9:55 am reservation for the Princess Storybook Breakfast at Akershus (the only one available on the day we are going to Epcot .. 🙁 … but with granddaughters ages 6 and 4 who are big princesses fans we HAD to take what we could get). My question is … since our reservation is after the park opening time we will not be allowed to enter earlier like we would be if our reservation was prior to 9am? I guess what I mean is do Cast Members actually check the time on your reservation to make sure it is before park opening time or are they just looking to see that you have ANY valid breakfast reservation (for that day of course)? Do they just like look at your reservation manually or do they scan a bar code or whatever to determine who is allowed in early or not?
What day is your breakfast reservation at Akershus? If you have not already been on you trip, I would recommend keeping an eye out (every day, twice a day if you can) to see if a time closer to 8:00 will open up. Especially one month before your reservation or later, some people will cancel due to a change in plans because they know they have to pay if they don’t go. I was able to find this out on my upcoming trip, I moved my reservation to 8:00 a.m. Good luck to you!
Just wondering if anyone has done Advance Dining Reservations for Oga’s Cantina at Hollywood Studios before park opening? They begin at 7am so I was wondering if Disney resort transportation runs that early?
Disney is running a tonne of transport to Hollywood right now, often long before opening, so I doubt that would be a problem. Just make sure to check the day before that they haven’t changed the park hours – the park is frequently opening at 7am at the moment.
Thanks so much!
For what it’s worth: we had an 8:10 ADR at Garden Grill at the beginning of July on an 9:00 open day at Epcot. We let us in earlier at the breakfast line, but when we arrived at GG at 8:00 hoping to be seated, they kept us waiting till 8:20. By the time we were actually seated and had spoken with the waitress etc. it was 8:30, another 5 minutes for food to appear. Did not get to eat enough of first round between taking pics with characters, forget about getting any more of anything – and honestly, we wouldn’t have wanted more anyway as it was all cooling by the time we got it, and the fruit did not seem fresh, felt lke from day before. Finally took a quick bathroom break at the end, and when we came out, the Soarin stampede had already begun. So we didn’t even get the early advantage we had been hoping for .
In conclusion – we will never do Garden Grill Breakfast again. Way too expensive for not enough reward. Was super stressful.
We had an end-of-June 8:00 ADR at Plaza on a 9:00 am open at Magic Kingdom. No problems getting there early on the bus from Pop, but when we arrived I just stood in line with my daughter like everyone else, not knowing I could have gotten in earlier by showing by reservation. Darn. Even so, we were very early through the gate, so much so that when we got to Plaza at 7:45 they turned us right around, saying they weren’t open yet. So we took some more early shots – with far more people in them than in the post here – and went back right at 8:00. We easily enjoyed breakfast and made it over the Adventureland rope (actually touching the rope, no one in front of us) where the cast made us wait fully until 9:00 before leading us in. We were the very first people in the queue at Jungle Cruise. So it worked out and I would do Plaza breakfast again.
This will be our first time staying off property. We have an 8am reservation for Akershus. Will we be able to enter from future world where parking is early or do we need to somehow get around to the word showcase entrance
This is reassuring. I have 8:35 and 8:45 reservations for our group at GG and was hoping those times wouldn’t be too late to beat RD. Still have a few months to score earlier but at least I know we might be okay if we can’t get anything closer to 8. Thanks for clarifying that!
Garden Grill is my favorite breakfast inside the parks. An 8:00 reservation puts you in line at Soaring by 8:45 and you’re usually off the ride right before park opening so you can get to Test Track. That means you saved 2 fast passes already and you can use your Tier 1 for Frozen.
Be Our Guest is great too but the cast members vary on when they’ll let you actually ride 7DMT. One day I rode it back to back before the rope drop. One day they waited till rope drop before letting us even enter. Usually you can ride it once and be off as everyone enters the park. We have to do the child swap anyway so I have my wife wait in line at Peter Pan while I ride and then meet her there.
First off, love your blog! I have referenced it so many times! We are staying off-site in September and plan to go to HS in the morning. There are extra magic hours starting at 6am, and the park opens at 9am. If we were to get an 8:10 breakfast reservation and enter the park early, could we explore along with all of the extra magic hour goers before the park fully opens?
I am new to the dining reservations world, as this will be my first time traveling to Orlando as a parent and now a whole new level of Disney has been opened up to me! We aren’t staying on-site (parents live nearby) but my husband and I are doing a one-day ticket for Epcot. Currently it does not have the park-hopper option since we only planned on doing Epcot (drinking and eating around the world while my parents watch our baby!). Are pre-opening rezzies only good for the park you are attending that day? If we wanted to go to Crystal Palace in MK, we would need a park-hopper to get to Epcot, correct? And if we don’t want to add that option, we should probably schedule an Epcot breakfast OR a resort breakfast?
Your website has been an amazing resource for planning our Epcot day! Thank you!!
You are correct, you would have to add the ph option. I would suggest you book an 8am reservation for breakfast at Garden Grill. It’s my personal favorite and I’m sure many people feel the same. Then you can hop right in line for Soarin’ after you eat.
Thanks for the recommendation! I will keep an eye on Garden Grill, although I was really hoping to do a character breakfast. Any thoughts on Trattoria al Forno at Boardwalk Inn the morning of our Epcot visit? I believe this is walkable to an Epcot entrance? We aren’t super hardcore on doing too many rides, we will definitely do one or two with FastPass, but it is not the draw for our visit this time.
It’s actually a character breakfast with Chip and Dale, Mickey, and Pluto. It’s in a rotating dining room and they usually come to your table twice
I have ADR for 8:55am at Be Our Guest. The real reason I chose this is to get in the park early and get to the 7 Dwarfs Mine Train. Can I check-in at Be Our Guest, walk around the inside and leave without ordering? Thus avoiding the $10/person penalty and making it onto the ride?
I have reservations later in the week to eat there for lunch, so we will spend time at the restaurant later in the week.
At Be Our Guest, you either order beforehand online, or at the restaurant with an ordering screen just before you are seated. Since they will ask you to check in and order at the same time, my guess is that you’d be charged the fee if you didn’t order :/
Hi, here’s a question from the Netherlands (Europe). And yes we do read your blog over here and we love it!!! I’m wondering if the extra openinghours are different every year. We’re coming to WDW in august 2020 and thought it could be an idea to look at the extra openinghours of the last 5 years and than plan our ADR based on the extra openinghours scedule of the past.
We have 9 am adr for Be Our Guest, and it looks like MK opens at 9 that morning. Do you know how early we can arrive?
Why would someone not reserve a Tusker house pre park opening breakfast and then skip it, pay $10 dollars and go get in line for Pandora.
We have a BOG traction for 9:10 am, but it seems impractical that we will make it to the Beasts castle in 10 minutes from role drop 3 young kids… Can we get in early or do we have to wait for rope drop?
Nicole, do you have an update on this? I am wondering the same thing.
I have the same question. We have a 910 for tuskers and park opens at 9 that day. It’s our first park day and I’m worried about making it with 4 children.
How does the new PPO at the Plaza restaurant play into this? It’s not behind the rope, so there wouldn’t be any advantage for rides, but what about empty park pics? It’s currently only taking breakfast reservations through the end of May, I hope it extends to October when I’ll be going!
We just had breakfast at the Plaza– 8 am reservation and the park opened at 9 am. It was wonderful! Yes, you are allowed in before the regular guests. We had plenty of time to eat breakfast and then walk to Space Mountain – where we actually walked right on to the ride. It was wonderful! It was such a relaxing, stress-free start to the day. Who gets to enjoy a delicious breakfast and look out the windows at Cinderalla’s castle while sipping mimosas?
This is a great article! But I’m super confused about Disney’s internal transportation. We’ve been to WDW many times, and I always thought buses and monorail started about an hour before park opening. But now everything official says buses 45 minutes and monorail 30 minutes. Yikes! We will be at Shades of Green and hoped to use the monorail from Poly but not if it won’t start til 30 minutes before opening. Does the ferry from TTC run any earlier? Can anyone clarify whether these times are accurate? Is this something new?! Thank you!
When we stayed at SOG and wanted to do rope drop at AK we took a Lyft, it was great and very inexpensive. We were concerned about the Lyft being allowed to drive in to the grounds at SOG but it was no problem.
Transportation was an issue for our 8 am breakfast at the Plaza-MK. We stayed on club level at the Yacht Club and asked our concierge- twice. Both times we were told that the buses started at 6:30 am and we should get on one by 7 am. We went out to the bus stop to see that nothing was listed on the bus departure board.. So we went inside and asked the front desk. They responded, not very nicely, that we should have made arrangements for a cab. My daughter immediately arranged for a Minnie van to take us there. The Minnie van was quick and the driver was really nice but it added an extra $30+ to the cost of our breakfastl
I want to book an early breakfast reservation for my upcoming honeymoon in May, in order to get some uncrowded pictures in front of the castle. Will there be photopass photographers working that early that would be able to take pictures in front of the castle?
In July 2014, we had an 8:30 ADR for Crystal Palace and we walked up Main Street and stopped at 3 or maybe 4 different photopass spots with subsequent photographer getting us closer to the castle.
This is so incredibly helpful! I just want to confirm: even if our reservations at Crystal Palace are at 8:35 (with 9:00 opening), we will be let in as early as 7:45 through the special turnstile for reservations? Will we then have to hang out before the ropes until our reservation time (versus being allowed to wander back toward BOG)? Finally, if we arrive at, say, 8:20, and they’ve already started letting people onto Main Street, do we have to go through the main turnstiles af that point, or do we still get to enter via the “PPO reservation” turnstile? Thank you!